Basketball: Sharks seek place in cup final after tough Eagles test

Sharks Allen Payne. Pic: Dean Woolley.
Sharks Allen Payne. Pic: Dean Woolley.

Sheffield Sharks face their biggest test of the season on Friday as they try and book a place in the BBL Cup final.

Sharks travel to Newcastle Eagles two points behind on aggregate in the second leg of the semi-final after losing the first match 77-75 at the EIS a fortnight ago.

That defeat against Newcastle was the fourth of a five match losing streak, which the Sharks broke with a comprehensive 71-52 victory at Yorkshire rivals Leeds Force last Friday.

Although results have been below expectations this season there is a growing feeling that Sharks are in decent form and can beat an impressive Eagles team in the north-east.

However, Newcastle have already beaten Sheffield three times this campaign – twice in the league as well as the first leg in the cup semi – and will be confident of building on their two-point advantage.

Sharks American forward Allen Payne says it is important his teammates take the game to the Eagles: “They are a really good team with a lot of weapons.

“But we have to stay physical with them. They’re a team that feeds off trying to impose their will but we will not back down.

“It’s going to be a great atmosphere up there and I believe it will be another great game.

“As far as getting to the final, that will just be a goal we can check off.”

Former Sharks player Fab Flournoy who has built a trophy-winning dynasty in Newcastle over the past 13 years does not want to change anything in the build up to the game which has been so successful for him and his club.

“Confidence is generally a good thing but you do always have to be careful that it doesn’t result in a lack of focus,” said Flournoy.

“We try and blot out the previous game when preparing for the next one, whether it was a good performance or a bad one.”

“We have played Sheffield three times already so it isn’t just about the first leg,” said Flournoy.

“We will review the tape and see if we can find ways to be more effective at each end of the court.”

Sharks return to BBL Championship action, and another trip up the A1, on Sunday when they visit Durham Wildcats.